[Road Trip Eats] Cambodia: Kolap

601 N Dale St
St. Paul

We take every opportunity we can to eat cuisine that is not available in Chicago – and one cuisine that is not available at all in Illinois is Cambodian. The twin cities has a high Hmong immigrant population, many of whom were most recently from Cambodia. Kolap is a bit off the beaten track, in a nondescript storefront. The room was simply decorated and at 1pm on on a Sunday, was buzzing with a huge party in full swing – a Hmong family of 20+ digging into an elaborate lunch.

Though the restaurant itself was stark white and simple we noticed a disco ball and some pretty serious speakers. Perhaps Kolap turns into a dance club after hours? We were also struck by the interesting array of pan-Asian sauces on the table, as seen below.


Though the menu does in fact include some pretty esoteric dishes like pig intestines, stomach and ears (Pak Lou –  $8.50) and Octopus with green peppers ($10.50), we started out slow. L ordered the chicken Lot Chaa ($7.50), a typical Cambodian dish. Lot Chaa (seen below) reminded L somewhat of the Thai dish Pad See Eiw, but with small fat rice noodles. M ordered Chicken with Green Peppers (Cha Kroueng Sach-Mouen, $8.50). However, this dish was lost in translation. M was thinking of green bell peppers, when in reality the dish came chock-a-block with spicy green Thai chilies. Even the normally heat-resistant M was breathing fire. K ordered the classic standby Pad Thai ($8.50), which was a nice rendition with a huge portion. The Cambodian rendition of this Thai dish packed an extra green pepper punch, though. The menu at Kolap is truly huge, and we are sad we won’t be able to sample some more options, but for anyone in MSP who is a Thai food fan, Kolap is a great introduction to Cambodian.


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